Ever since its debut in 2013 with the Tough Love barrel-aged imperial stout, Crux Fermentation Project's [BANISHED] series has represented the most avant-garde experimental side of the brewery. The 2014 version of Freakcake officially came out last week—and to celebrate, Crux also offered a four-pack at the brewery.
Freakcake is a barrel-aged Oud Bruin ale (Dutch for "old brown"), a type of beer originating in the Flemish-speaking part of Belgium. Brewed with heavy roasted malts, lemon and orange zest, the beer is then allowed to sit around in barrels for half a year, with Brettanomyces yeast added to induce secondary fermentation and put a bit of Belgian-style funk on the nose and palate (don't expect extreme Duchesse de Bourgogne-style sourness, though). The result is a dark 10.5-percent that's rich in complexity, with a taste package that only improves as it's cellared, allowing the alcohol burn to taper off and the added sour and dark-fruit flavors to better take center stage.
[BANISHED] beers aren't cheap, with 375ml bottles usually in the range of $12-$14, but the investment can pay dividends to patient Belgian and sour-beer fans. And said fans are now stretching their wallets a bit further with Crux's One-Off [BANISHED] Variety four-pack, a selection of bourbon barrel-aged Freakcake variants—one "naked" apart from the bourbon, one with Deglet Nour dates, one with Oregon-grown cranberries, and one with Zante currants added. The four bombers cost a whopping $116, making the pack not exactly the happy-hour PBR drinker's first pick, but early reports indicate that it's Crux's most ambitious set of beers yet, with the currant version's joyously fruity palate already shining through. (Sadly, given they only made around 150 bottles of each type, there's no guarantee any will be left at Crux by the time you read this. Hit up your beer-geek friends instead.)